Sewer Line Presents Problem to Homeowner

By: Summer Minger

Melba B. had standing water in her yard.

The Texarkana resident lived in the home her mother had built more than 50 years prior. The water in her yard caused it to be unsightly and have an unpleasant odor. Her neighbors were complaining, and Melba couldn’t enjoy her yard and had issues using the facilities.

“My mother and our neighbor haven’t gotten along because he’s been complaining about the smell from the water being backed up,” Melba’s daughter Shayla said. “It’s not like we didn’t try to get it resolved, it’s just always a dead end.”

A Sewer Line Problem Gets Worse

Melba had an emergency sewer line repair plan with HomeServe, so she called the company to inform them of the issue. A technician was sent out to survey the problem. What they found was more bad news: the sewer line from Melba’s home to its septic tank was shot. In addition, the tank itself was full and the field lines were inoperable. The city required Melba tie into the city sewer system to alleviate the problem.

“The plumbing has been a problem for 40 years,” Shayla said. “The plumbers came and looked and said, no, it’s not a [water] leak. It’s actually a sewage problem.”

In order to meet the city’s requirements, the old septic tank would have to be filled and capped. In addition, a new, 100-foot sewer line extended from the home to the city sewer line. To further complicate things, Melba’s home was down the hill from the sewer line. That meant a gravity line couldn’t be installed. Instead, an electrical pump would have to be installed to force material upward to the city line.

The cost of all this work would exceed Melba’s plan benefits by nearly $13,000. Without these necessary repairs, Melba would have no sewer service at her home.

Looking for Help

HomeServe Cost Authorization Technical Specialist April Bemis knew that Melba was older, used a wheelchair and lived on a fixed income. Melba couldn’t afford to have the repair done, but neither could she afford to lose the home that had been in her family for half a century.

“[Melba]’s septic system had failed, a new sewer line would have to be run, a pump system installed, and a tap onto the city main out in front of her house,” April said. “[She] didn’t have the funds for the thousands of dollars she would have been out-of-pocket on.”

April also knew that Melba had been a loyal HomeServe customer and she needed to do something to make this situation right. She presented the matter to HomeServe’s Customer First team and Real Time Insights Customer Advocate Sara Parris.

“My mother was in contact with HomeServe,” Shayla said. “Miss Sara told her how much it was going to cost, and my mother said, ‘I really can’t afford that,’ so [Sara] said, ‘I’ll see what I can help you with.’”

Finding a Solution

Melba needed help, so HomeServe covered out-of-pocket costs and worked with contractors to bring the cost down.

“I got assistance from Jason Drew in our Deployments Department, who helped me find M&T Plumbing,” Sara said. “Mike, from that company, saved the day. We also used our own network contractor, Jiles Electrical, to help do the wiring portion for the sewer pump that was needed for the sewer system to work properly.”

When Mike Rogers from M&T Plumbing learned that HomeServe was covering repairs beyond Melba’s contractual benefits, he decided to reciprocate.

“I said, ‘well, since it’s like that, I’ll cut my rates to help,’” he said.

In September, M&T Plumbing and Jiles Electrical rolled up their sleeves and got to work installing a new sewer connection for Melba.

“I made sure when I talked to Miss Sara the other day, I asked her again, just to make sure, if it was going to cost anything and she told me no,” Shayla said.

Shayla and Melba were relieved, but they weren’t the only ones. April and Sara also were grateful for a chance to come to the assistance of a customer in need.

Helping Those in Need

“Without programs like this, some of our customers would suffer,” April said. “And sometimes our customers would have to move out of their homes or live in debilitating conditions. Somebody needs to step up and do what’s right for them. To be part of an organization that cares so deeply about the customers makes me extremely grateful and proud. It’s awesome to come to work and be encouraged to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

“It enables us to help them when they don’t have the right policy to cover the issue that they are having or if they just don’t have the funds to do it themselves,” Sara added. “This experience has been great because it was overwhelming to see how many people worked together to solve her problem. It’s just the atmosphere at HomeServe where everybody helps each other and the teams in every department work together for an ultimate cause.”

Melba’s issue was resolved at no cost to her, and she can stay in her home without worry.

“It’s different when you have people who treat you nicely and who will follow through on their word,” Shayla said. “And my mother has been referring other people to HomeServe now.”